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Budgets Aren’t Balance Sheets! and other Basic (USA)Facts about Billionaires’ Philanthropic Behaviors, Such as of 2014-retired Microsoft CEO Steven Ballmer + His Wife Connie [Aug. 4, 2018]

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I started to weave some of this information into a different post, anticipating writing further on it.

However, after about a days’ hunt for two (STILL not found yet) EIN#s connected with the famous philanthropists mentioned in the title, and after reading the tax returns / shabby filing habits of one of the no doubt much smaller ones also associated (referring to the Los Angeles Clippers Foundation — Steven Ballmer also owns the Los Angeles Clippers), I felt it better to sequester this topic onto its own post.

Too bad, because, understood better, it adds weight to the original argument — most headlines involved nonprofits at SOME level, and we’d be better off as a whole, when they come up, to look them up!

Anyhow:  My post title:

Budgets Aren’t Balance Sheets! and other Basic (USA)Facts about Billionaires’ Philanthropic Behaviors, Such as of 2014-retired Microsoft CEO Steven Ballmer + His Wife Connie [July, 2018] (short-link ends “-982”).  Started mid-July, published Aug. 4, 2018, at about 9,000 words (tags added later).  It comes from the middle of Two Plaintiffs’ Counsel Nonprofits for Class Action Lawsuit (℅ Center for Investigative Reporting article) (Short-link ends “-95X,” published 7/31/2018).

CLICK IMAGE TO READ!  Good Ventures (Public, ℅ SVCF) Form 990, FY2016 Sched L acknowledging ICONIQ Capital’s “Interested Person” status through 35% owner, Divesh Makan (viewed 8/4/2018)

The post title could also reference, and I do include for comparison, two other philanthropic couples, both with close ties to Facebook and a multi-billion-dollar Silicon Valley Community Foundation (“SVCF”) formed by merger to reach $1 billion assets only in 2006.

Besides Zuckerberg’s apparent direct involvement in (funding) SVCF and with Iconiq Capital’s Divesh Makan (discussed below) from before Facebook went public, these two couples also headed two of SVCF’s many “related tax-exempt organizations” formed since 2006 (samples below).  However, the Chan-Zuckerberg related organization dissolved itself in 2016 into multiple other “CZI” branded LLCs (Delaware entities) while more “CZI” branded nonprofits were then started up (again, shown below).

CLICK IMAGE TO READ! Good Ventures (Public, ℅ SVCF) Form 990, FY2016 Sched O showing entwined relationships (viewed 8/4/2018)

So husband-and wife couples Priscilla Chan & Mark Zuckerberg (Startup: Education + the more recent Chan Zuckerberg Initiative) and Dustin Moskovitz & Cari Tuna, have overlapping mutual foundation interests. Zuckerberg and Moskovitz were Facebook co-founders, and one major mutual foundation in common is the Silicon Valley Community Foundation in Santa Clara County, (SF Bay Area) California.

Moskovitz & Tuna’s variety of “Good Ventures” entities (one public (<==EIN#452757586, 2016 tax return), one private (<==EIN#461008520, 2015 tax return) foundation and an LLC) collectively report (2016) over $1B Assets (the LLC’s assets are unknown; LLCs don’t have to reveal their financials to the public). (Next 3-image gallery shows: 1) Total combined gross Assets from these two “Good Ventures” foundations (along with some others) in table form, and 2), 3) self-disclosure on multiple entities from the organization’s website.

GoodVentures.com the website was (still is, generally) initially confusing until I looked up the referenced organizations financials. That website doesn’t overtly feature “SVCF” but instead “GiveWell” and “Open Philanthropy Project,” which (like Startup: Education — and Good Ventures) seems to keep changing its format and, correspondingly, its reporting requirements, using one sound-byte (or trademark) for multiple organizations.  GiveWell it also turns out is a trade name (‘dba’) not an entity name.

The public “Good Ventures” foundation (℅ SVCF) has only 3 officers:  Cari Tuna, Dustin Moskovitz, and Divesh Makan, and the (highly paid) board / officers of related SVCF (as of tax return 2016).

There are investment managers in common among these various foundations and LLCs (ICONIQ Capital, Apercen Partners, Square Seven Management**) showing up: as “℅” on the addresses; as well-paid independent subcontractors (Form 990 Pt. VIIB); and/or as “(Form 990 Sched L) Interested-Person Transactions,” or (as in Good Ventures example imaged above) as might be reported on a tax return under Schedule O, “Supplemental Information”). … For the LLCs, searchable in California at BusinessSearch.sos.ca.gov, they show up as either listed “managers” and/or at the same street address + Suite#s entity addresses.

(**Square Seven Management LLC it says is managed by Iconiq Capital LLC, a Delaware Entity)

These networked billionaires work through networked foundations and similarly named LLCs to: move the money, pool the assets, and use common investment managers often, who invest alongside them and are paid fees and percentages of “AUM,” assets under management (presumably).

Who knows, perhaps that’s what ‘APERCEN” in “Apercen Partners” refers to – “A percen(t).”  (Just kidding…)

Investopedia 2/28/2016 article (Mark P. Cussen), “Are AUM Fees a Thing of the Past?” (Click image to enlarge or click through for article).

Search “AUM fees” for several results.  Here’s an interesting and quick-read one from March 28, 2018: “Why AUM-Based Fees Don’t Meet Fiduciary Standards” by Bert Whitehead of “Cambridge, Connection, Inc.  “Advisor Perspectives.”  Another from Guideline.com (What is an AUM Fee?), and from Investopedia that they may be going out of fashion: Are AUM Fees a Thing of the Past? by By Mark P. Cussen, CFP®, CMFC, AFC | February 12, 2016.  Notice these are all written by financial advisors of one kind or another, see all the initials after that last author (and nearby image)

 

The networked billionaires then advertise their own work on websites which post, typically, no identification (or minimal and not the most recent by far) of tax returns for specific foundations, or evidence of any LLC filings, or audited financial statements. Where would those audited financial statements be found?  While sometimes the California OAG may post audited financial reports under individual foundation’s “Details” page, for these (I’m reporting on herein) it doesn’t seem to.

The spider-like nature (multiple related organizations, with separate identities but apparently common SVCF management) and behavior of SVCF blurs the IRS’ definition (when movement of money is shown) of “supporting organization” (the “support” seems to be going in the opposite direction) and the concept of actual independent entities, when the independent entities simply delegate administration and management to the controlling one (here, SVCF), paying its board and/or employees handsomely for the fees, and retaining (both supporting and supported, i.e. SVCF, organizations) most assets while granting out (for several of these SVCF-managed related organizations) millions of dollars more in a given year than is taken in — some “budget” — knowing that their rich benefactors will either cough up some more, or close it down as part of an obviously pre-determined exit strategy.

Overall it seems to be more about the investments held by and funds moving between multiple nonprofits under common management (including some of the boards) than about the advertised projects.  Another reason I say, watch the Balance Sheets as much as if not more than the Budget.

Also complicating comparisons among multiple entities, even of public with private ones under common management or ownership:

Differences between public (990s) and private (990PF) filings (unofficial, deduced just through observation)…making cross-comparisons from the same wealth source harder for the average person, although the purpose of by law (Internal Revenue Code) making them public at all, one would think, is for the average person, “the public,” — not just potential donors — to understand how entities with tax-exempt privilege are in fact operating and what they are doing with that privileged status.

My comments refer to IRS Forms 990 since substantial revisions in 2008 only. I have spent more time looking at the more recent forms, although I often do go back before 2008 for specific entities.

  • PUBLIC 990-filing foundations have to categorize types of investments on their balance sheets (Part X, since the IRS Form 2008ff) and provide more detail on Schedule “D” to Part X for any amounts for Other Investments or “Other Assets,” but do not have to name which exact corporate/public-traded or other investments are held.   
  • Public foundations also in their grantmaking are to supply EIN#s for grantees
  • Public foundations by IRS form have to segregate domestic and foreign grants on different schedules (Schedule I, Schedule F) 
  • PRIVATE 990PF-filing foundationsremember, Good Ventures has one of each both formed about 2012 it says — do list how many shares of exactly which investments, and grouped by type, but do not (as I understand it/I may be wrong about that) have to categorize them on the tax return’s balance sheet statements as to type.  
  • PRIVATE (990PF-filing foundations) in listing their grants do not have to separate domestic (USA) and foreign (non-USA) grants — and some of these are granting out millions with very long lists.  They also are not required to provide EIN#s for any grantee, making fact-checking or follow-up harder; especially when grantees can and do tend to change their names, or if the name & address recorded on the 990PF do not match reality.
  • The PROBLEM: Together, this makes obtaining an overall view on any single enterprises’ (or individuals’) financial impact on specific projects. The information is dispersed, and it’s recorded in different reporting formats even when the money may be coming from the same source (i.e., same extraordinary personal wealth).
  • Movement / re-branding of business entities over time:
    • The project & organization “Open Philanthropy” at “GiveWell” (to which GoodVentures and others have been contributing) then morphed into “Open Philanthropy” (so far, I’ve located three types of entities:  LLC, 501©3 — barely funded — and 501©4 — startup funding about $55M!!). Some details below, see also list of “tags” for this post which name several of the entities.
    • GiveWell and Open Philanthropy bring up two more names (both young(ish) men, not a “couple”), Holden Karnofsky & Elie Hassenfeld, as well as the hedge fund investment management firm (Bridgewater Associates) where they met and came from.  More on this below the next aqua-highlit paragraph and “Open Philanthropy Action Fund” tax return table.
      • Not shown this post, but I’ve looked at several (at least five) of the largest donors GiveWell has been recommending and looked up their tax returns since this post was published Aug. 4, 2018.  I also did a chrono review of GiveWell (“The Clear Fund’s) tax returns as far back as 990finder provides. I wouldn’t give any of them a “C+” on transparency or reporting, and some (Imperial College Foundation, Atlanta GA) an “F” (just moving money to a well-endowed UK London,UK college).
      • Among the grantees, Harvard grads are “everywhere,” particularly at Evidence Action, which has a well-stated relationship with GiveWell as a sponsor, also with organization’s I’d run across and blogged separately associated with behavioral modification studies on the poor in developing countries. J-PAL and IPA (Innovations for Poverty Action). Search Alix Petersen Zwane for more insight.
      • Around 2011/2012, Cari Tuna shows up on the Board and GiveWell’s entity address goes cross-country (NY to SF), and funds start pouring in.
      • As I have said several times, “Harvard/Bain/Bridgespan” investment model in action.
    • Startup Education (of SVCF) morphed into Chan Zuckerberg (or “CZI”) initiatives, and so forth.  Several details (in image gallery format and described) below. See also list of “tags” for this post which name several of them.
The various websites always advertise how philanthropic and altruistic the causes are while, typically not showing the real picture behind the money movement, dispersal, and in general, obfuscation.

Personally, I find it hypocritical and stunningly arrogant. Failure to disclose their own financials while collaborating with their own social niches to channel grants to nonprofits which then lecture the public at large about better management of public institutions [health, education, criminal justice, housing, civil rights, immigration, racial equity — you name it] and how to “improve” them in this fashion and through these strategies.  Look at enough tax returns and related websites, and the background picture comes into clearer focus.

It is the tax returns (and, where available, AUDITED financial statements, plus name-change records at the Secretary of State (or corresponding state-level business filing databases; in California it’s the Secretary of State, others, may be Dept. of Revenue or of Corporations), and not the literal self-descriptions in words and (of course) appealing, empathy-insiring photos which provide the better interpretation of what the organizations are doing. Even site-visits or personal acquaintance (i.e., experiential impressions) cannot override the vitality of financials in comprehending WHAT — at this level of sponsored projects, nonprofits, and grant-making foundations etc. — the rich have in mind for the poor, as opposed to for themselves.  
Do this while you can, because indicators are that some of these privately controlled foundations (or their projects) are spinning off into LLCs.  One example shown in detail below (SVCF’s Startup: Education into Chan-Zuckerberg Initiative LLC); likewise the Good Ventures’ featured “Open Philanthropy Project” and promotion of (another couple’s 2007-formed) “GiveWell” foundation (See GoodVentures.com or the 3-image gallery above to note) has spun off into, not its own, transparent, tax-return filing (for public information) 501©3, but instead another LLC.

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Written by Let's Get Honest

August 4, 2018 at 2:22 pm

Posted in 1996 TANF PRWORA (cat. added 11/2011)

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Q1, 2018 Posts and “You Are Here,” on my Blog. Meanwhile, WE are Here, Collectively. (Or, from ‘Hewers of Wood + Drawers of Water’ To Functionally and Financially Illiterate** Consumers of Information, Products, and Social Services). (Publ. April 19, 2018)

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Full Post Title:  Q1, 2018 Posts and “You Are Here,” on my Blog. Meanwhile, WE are Here, Collectively. (Or, From ‘Hewers of Wood + Drawers of Water’ To Functionally and Financially Illiterate** Consumers of Information, Products, and Social Services). (Publ. April 19, 2018) [Case-sensitive, WordPress-generated shortlink ends “-8X8” and this post ends after about 9,600 11,000 words, sections of which may be moved elsewhere to shorten it!] [The “Read-More” link will also, in time, be moved closer to the top, making for a shorter lead-in section.]

**Explained more below in this post, and in a typical post. No apologies for failing to sugar-coat the news. Or for long sentences in the next few indented paragraphs, summarizing my understanding and explaining that comment. With additional “show-and-tell” relating to the rest of this post (and blog).

In my experience, (far) too many people, as for generations most of us have been conditioned, whether or not holding any number of white-collar professional jobs, whether or not possessing sufficient understanding of running a business to handle themselves, whether employee or self-employed, not only lack the functional vocabulary — financial literacy — to even acquire an understanding of the intersection of public and private finances, or on government and taxation itself — but also are so emotionally and financially invested in what works — at least tolerably — for themselves — they do not really want to (will not to the point of continually “cannot”) understand something different, that is, a different assessment.  Indicators and symptoms that something odd, that an ongoing, major economic “black hole of non-accountability” exists are thus sidelined, dismissed, and/or ignored, as are people who may broach the topic and point to it.  These fainter, less “in your face” indicators in some ways could be called “the canaries in the coal mines.” i.e., ignore at your own risk.

I have of course stood in the “too many people” category above until shocked out of it (in the context of family court), but unlike some, that shock didn’t eradicate all my curiosity, or my healthy respect for the value of ongoing observation and assessment of current surroundings as survival traits (which I also know are best utilized BEFORE in “fight-or-flight” mode).

The literacy and information (including functional vocabulary and its use) on certain economic matters and the operations of government as it is versus as it is portrayed to the public is where “first come + mutually organized = first served” and the rest of the population will be allocated to useful, functional positions within society* as organized by those more aware of just what public resources actually exist [1], and how to access them for private profit [2].  *That these positions may not look exactly like what they did centuries ago doesn’t mean they’re still not symbolically “Hewers of water and drawers of wood.”


[1] Key to understanding this is whether the public has been told the truth regarding the bottom line of (particularly) the federal government, and based on that, the legitimacy of all systems of taxation portrayed as beneficial and necessary for example, to balance that budget.  Bottom lines whether of both government and private sectors are expressed not just in terms of annual or bi-annual budgets — but of financial statements. AUDITED ones. Looking at a single entity or just a few entities within a field (OR at public only or private only) is inadequate because public and private constantly interact with each other. Both sectors frequently change names, consolidate, spin off or (for government departments) set up new offices within existing departments, etc.

[2] There’s far less competition in fields mutually controlled by those who pioneered them.

(Example: See blog search phrase:  Harvard/Bain/Bridgspan (as a business model) and click on the “Why Bother to Unravel” post [2.1] (its concluding paras) on that search result (2nd search result after this post).’ I concocted that phrase during a drill-down involving all three. I had discovered “Bridgespan” as a subcontractor on another foundation’s tax returns.  My fabricated phrase refers generally to commandeering the profits in NONprofit consulting, and as a NONprofit, which takes collaboration with others also so inclined.  Notice “Bain” is associated with well-known public figure from Massachusetts (who also ran for President not too long ago).[3, with two associated images]  Notice that an elite, private university (in that aspect, HBS — Harvard Business School) is integral part of the phrase, as it is of that model. Better yet, spell “Bridgespan” correctly in the search and read (scroll down towards the bottom for that section) what I published last year (March 30, 2017): Omidyar Entities: The Harvard/Bain/Bridgespan Consulting Model (Transform and Help Run — or own — Distressed Assets, LIKE U.S. PUBLIC SCHOOLS), Rebranded, on Steroids, and Gone Global).

[2.1] Full title and image from top of “Why Bother to Unravel” post (publ. June 16, 2018):

Why Bother to Unravel…Link provided nearby or see blog “Archives” for 6/16/2018. Bottom section of this post also summarizes key concerns in a few paragraphs, regarding social service delivery in the private sector, and the tax-exempt sector in general (from an accountability standpoint — not from a “service-delivery” standpoint).

[3] Bain Execs Spent Nearly $5M on Romney’s White House Run, Records Show (Anne Faris-Rosen in Center for Public Integrity, 2/7/2012 (let’s call this “about six years ago.)  Mitt Romney and John Kerry both referenced, in the article, but the image (excerpt shown here) mentions  Bain Capital LLC and Bain & Co., the latter being a consulting company. Note the timeframes and that Bain & Co. formed in 1984, a decade which is ON my radar below as to LBOs and major Tax Reform, and within the following decade (1986-1996) and with (Tax Reform Act of 1986) organizing personnel and nonprofits in common, welfare reform, which brings up right up to “the elephant in the room” when discussing why family courts are so conflict-ridden and economically, socially and psychologically devastating for so many. Romney, it says below, had continuing passive income after the fourteen years he spent at Bain & Co.  Note Bain & Co. LLC also did those leveraged buyouts which (for some of the bought-out companies’ employees) resulted in job loss through the heavy (i.e., “leveraged” with debt) burden the resulting setup provided.

Image #2 of 2, excerpted from Bain Execs Spend Nearly $5M on Romney White House Runs (2/7/2012 in Center for Public Integrity)”Click image to enlarge

Image #1 of 2, excerpted from Bain Execs Spend Nearly $5M on Romney White House Runs (2/7/2012 in Center for Public Integrity)”Click image to enlarge

 

Along the way (and on most posts on this blog), you’ll see that I continue to name and profile (economically) many organizations directly associated with and set up to affect custody proceedings, child support decision-making, and of course, defining what is and (especially) is not “domestic violence” or “child abuse” and is better described instead as, “high-conflict.”  Most of these address how to problem-solve any assessed condition  — typically through more trainings (some qualified under CEU or for lawyers CLE credits), certifications, and guidelines for those in the (existing and as we speak, more being created) professions involved. MOST of which will be supported, up front, or once in operation long-term, by public funds.  

This time (not most times) the image is the link to article. Click to access. It’s a short read — Please Do! (from Atlanta Business Chronicle originally).

McKinsey & Company copies Bain (2014)

This section/illustration may be moved (or may not) later! I added to it where McKinsey, already a global consulting company (for decades) connects also to the US-based National Governors’ Association., and the significance of the NGA among other similar associations in setting policies which obviously will affect US citizens due to size, scope and major corporations involved. //LGH.

While I’m on “Harvard/Bain/Bridgespan (The Bridgespan Group)” — it’s no secret that Bridgespan was a spinoff of Bain and involves consulting for nonprofits with positive spin on the social impact (benefits of course are featured) of doing so.  


On basic Google search again, among plenty of results on the first page, one is Nonprofit Quarterly reporting that the big consulting firm (multi-national) McKinsey & Co. (which I featured as a “Corporate Fellow” to “National Governors Association Center for Best Practices,” a pay-to-play status), reported in March 2015 that it has copied the model and spun off its own nonprofit.


Click nearby image to read more (see esp. para.3), however this next quote from it specifically acknowledges the “Bain’s Bridgespan” model being circulated — obviously among powerful corporations whose profits, otherwise, would be taxed — considerably if they weren’t moving revenues from nonprofit to nonprofit for better “social impact” and to help economic mobility of retail-level entry workers (!).

If you explore this example further, that’s exactly what they’re talking about.

Someone has to work for all the corporations who have so many profits they have to pour excess into tax-exempt foundations.

If you read further (on this post) for example, on the background of people like Grover Norquist (active in pushing for Tax Reform Act of 1986, and after that, “Contract with America,” which so dramatically (but in the “background operating systems”) impacted judicial decision-making in America’s (meaning here, the USA’s) family courts, it becomes clear that businesses organize in response to tax laws so as to reduce their corporate taxes.

There seems to be a connection between Tax Reform Act of 1986 and “Welfare Reform” (major restructuring) of 1996.

McKinsey & Co. Starts its own version of Bain’s Bridgespan Rick Cohen, March 27, 2015 in Nonprofit Quarterly.

…Some portion of McKinsey’s thinking on nonprofits is contained in the McKinsey on Society website, where there are essays and research summaries addressing topics such as how poor school systems can become good school systems and, not surprisingly, extolling the potential of social impact bonds. In other words, as a global management consulting firm, McKinsey has had a nonprofit practice carried out by some of its 19,000 staff in over 100 offices in 61 countries.

This looks a little like Bain & Company’s creation of the Bridgespan Group in 1999. Bridgespan started out strongly with a $1 million grant from Bain plus several loaned staff. Like McKinsey, Bain & Company is a wealthy parent for its nonprofit consulting spinoff, with sales of around $2.1 billion.

The Chronicle of Philanthropy suggests that the McKinsey Social Initiative will start life with a $70 million capital infusion from McKinsey & Company plus access to 25 of its consultants to work on MSI projects and advice from 10 McKinsey partners …

Well, I just looked up the Form 990s and found it’s already (since 2014 origins) changed its name AND its website, and the one linked to on the 2015 report (which is neither) isn’t what the 2016 tax return shows (latest year shown on a separate database — NONE are shown on the website) (EIN# is 471073442).
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Featuring Five Vital Posts on …. Our Assigned Places in the Tax Continuum Pecking Order (from ABA, APA post update) [Publ. July 12, 2017]

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Featuring Five Vital Posts on …. Our Assigned Places in the Tax Continuum Pecking Order (from ABA, APA post update) case-sensitive short-link ending “-7bR”

I(Oct 2014 updated July 2017, Pt. 3B, i.e., taken from “Do You Know Your…ABA, APA (Founders, History, and via their Forms 990/O or Financial Statements, As Nonprofits?), Or How the ABA from its start maneuvered around existing suffrage for “men of color” long after women also got the vote? If Not, Then You Also May Not Yet Know Your [the Public’s] Assigned Place in the Tax Continuum Pecking Order.”

WITHIN that post, I extracted a section about conversations we need to have:  To Identify and UNDERstand is to know Why (and How) to WITHstand. (Public’s Assigned Place on the Tax Continuum Pecking Order, [from “Do You Know Your ABA, APA…?” Oct. 2014 Post Update]  (case-sensitive shortlink this time ends “-7dX”).  That brief post ends with a shortlink to this one (although without the fancy title).

That (short) post reminded readers of my Five Related Posts  from the Vital Links menu whose themes continue to prove relevant year after year, no matter which topic I seem to be researching or reporting on.  It also reminded and showed readers an interesting (and so far, typical) response to the relevance of the CAFR (Consolidated Annual Financial Reports) Mass Media Coverups when it’s brought to light.

THIS ONE was first started for technical (length, easier revision) purposes 7-7-2017.  All paragraph breaks had been wiped out…

There were also at least two length issues here.  One is me running my mouth in quasi-PTSD mode back in 2014 (a time of major household stress and transition as I had just outed relative probate/fiduciary abuse in the context of same relative’s prior involvement in undoing my work life via post-domestic violence separation’s family court litigation — on the opposing side, etc.)  Another length issue was technical blogging ability — at the time I hadn’t discovered how to use (smaller) screenprints, instead of quotes, and or begun using condensed fonts inside quotes, or lines to set them off from basic text inside boxes.  I hope to correct both without negating or erasing important content.  But some post “surgery” may be required here….

BUT, I WILL STILL CONVEY THE PRIMARY MESSAGES:


CAFRs as a system of reporting for government entities regulated by a tax-exempt nonprofit set up by the AICPA (American Institute of Certified Public Accountants) only began, at least as regulated by this tax-exempt nonprofit, in the 1970s, by which time post World War II government surpluses were really starting to accumulate (as well as personal fortunes made in wartime).

Key to CAFR coverup is accounting practices which separate “BUDGET” from many other funds, handle “General Fund” as though it was the main source of government receipts (it most certainly isn’t at the federal, state, and most other levels).  Being blissfully (??) ignorant of how to assess, see, or conceptualize just how many assets and in what forms, and under what funds, all levels of (USA – federal) (States — all 50 and territories) governments, plural, exist and where they are pooled, or where held separately, “the people” are easily fooled into accepting the constant talk of DEFICIT without regard to NET ASSETS or even GROSS ASSETS (and taking a look at how liabilities are accounted for).

The problem with showing this information is the “snooze” factor.  It’s not colorful, juicy, doesn’t have major photography involved; it requires actual dealing with numeric and categorization concepts (somewhat abstract) even though they really do apply to concrete situations — like how to make a city go bankrupt needlessly by changing accounting rules.

It also isn’t typically grasped with just 15 minutes of exposure, or maybe even a few days. Constant absorption of current events and news does NOT typically equip or condition a person to absorbing this type of information if one doesn’t already know how to.  Its impact is also so significant, there is a natural desire to go back to the “pristine” innocent belief that the problem wasn’t so fundamental.


The post “To Identify and UNDERstand is to know Why (and How) to WITHstand. (Public’s Assigned Place on the Tax Continuum Pecking Order, [from “Do You Know Your ABA, APA…?” Oct. 2014 Post Update]“(case-sensitive shortlink this time ends “-7dX”,) talks about conversations we (the public) should be having as part of normal basic, understanding of life in this country.  These conversations ideally should be with each other in places where we can view the same visuals, charts, and discuss them ideally face to face and ongoing, and with our own families or partners, or friends.  BUT, we have been conditioned NOT to talk about these things, and become focused and engrossed on other things instead.

Business owners who operated in this manner would go under, or get taken over because they are not paying attention to their bottom lines, or the current marketplace and climate — or finding and listening to others who can tell the truth about it.

This information IS “the bottom line” for people living here and subject to taxation, policies, conditions created by various entities, and propaganda, where it may be propaganda, about the where IS that bottom line, really — as a basis for setting future policy.

These more people should be having with each other are talks about money which take into account how the government sector interacts with the public (through taxation and tax-exemption), what’s done with tax receipts (how it’s shown in reports versus portrayed on the media), and how government entities differ from business entities organized under the same governments (guess which one is really on top?).  These conversations cannot occur without at least some basic vocabulary and a bit of “practice.”  That “practice” has to include some financial statements and tax return reading.

I have some very smart, articulate, well-educated friends, who I continue to respect.  Some may say they are no good with numbers, their minds don’t work that way.  How much of this is nature or nurture (or lack of nurture when it come to basic math) isn’t my business.

I realize some people are visual learners, but I refuse to believe there are not more people who are capable of thinking conceptually AND capable of comprehending consequences of having had significant information about how our own governments operate using their financial statements being withheld from the average person, and from open, and frequent discussion on-line and in social media.

Carl Herman, “Nonpartisan examiner” 7/3/2011, leading quotes (after link to a video) in “Debt-damned economics: Learn monetary reform or kiss your assets goodbye (Pt. 1 of 2)”. Accessible also from his article on the $600B fund that can’t fund $27B pension obligations, (below).

I wonder what is the psychological block to facing some of these facts, or understanding that they refer to things which often make headlines in the major media anyhow — for example, constant talk of underfunded pensions, pension liabilities making or breaking some major metropolitan city.  Again — Carl Herman (cited enough on this blog, probably on the post leading to this one) said it clearly enough and he’s not alone.  I just think he expressed it well — why hold over $600B assets (speaking of I believe CalPERS) when it doesn’t adequately fund pension contributions anyhow?  Here’s a paragraph from my lead-in post (with a little extra color for emphasis):

For an antidote, go read some Walter Burien (May 10, 2010, “Is our Government Bankrupt?…. Analogies are Fun to Use: Is the Columbian Cartel short of cocaine?“, Clint Richardson (July 20, 2013, “Detroit: The Latest Bankruptcy Lie” (hover-cursor for abstract, and read the top part, too)), or Carl Herman, who asks such questions as, “CAFR summary: if $600B ‘fund’ can’t fund $27B pension, $16B budget deficit, why have it?? (from his 2012 article) and, like the others, can also walk people through it, and has:

  • Interview: Game-changing CAFR trillions explained (Feb. 14, 2014)….These astounding funds are disclosed in official Comprehensive Annual Financial Reports (CAFRs). Government and media “leaders” claiming no options but austerity while failing to honestly communicate surplus trillions is OBVIOUS criminal financial fraud . .

So, this post starts with a slight overlap (naming the five posts and reminding us to go check out the FMS Treasury.gov website (and/or its redirect) to view some reports.

Expanding on that commentary from Burien (2010) above, he gives an analogy (other than the rhetorical response — “Is the Columbian cartel short of cocaine?” which seems a good analogy for the situation! I added a screenprint, then a quote:
Read the rest of this entry »

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